Non-pharmacological Methods in the Treatment of Resistant Hypertension

Folia Med (Plovdiv). Apr-Jun 2012;54(2):5-11. doi: 10.2478/v10153-011-0081-y.


Introduction: Arterial hypertension is the most common chronic cardiovascular disease affecting about 25% of the adult population. Meta-analyses have demonstrated a linear relationship between blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular events. Resistant hypertension defined as failure to reach blood pressure targets despite treatment with three antihypertensive drugs including a diuretic represents a serious clinical problem. It has been estimated that it affects between 8.9% and 12.8% of all treated hypertensive subjects. In resistant hypertension the optimal blood pressure is illusive despite very well tailored therapy.

Objective: Management of resistant hypertension is exactly the field where blood pressure-controlling non-pharmacological methods fit best. The present article aims at throwing light on these methods' principles of action, on who the target patient groups are and the respective results. Two methods are especially reviewed here: the carotid baroreflex stimulation and the transcatheter renal sympathetic denervation. Current results from the use of renal denervation suggest stable efficiency of the method, the results becoming significant 6 months after the procedure is applied and sustained for two years in the follow-up. As much as 90% of the treated patients respond to the procedure. The transcatheter renal denervation is associated with only 2.61% of procedural complications. The baroreflex carotid stimulation, too, is known to produce a stable effect on blood pressure: the effect become obvious at 12 months in 88% of the treated subjects. The neurologic complications associated with the procedure are reported to occur in 4.4% of cases.

Conclusion: The present review article clearly demonstrates that non-pharmacological methods for treatment of resistant hypertension show great promise despite some open questions concerning their long term effects and procedural safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Baroreflex / physiology*
  • Carotid Sinus / innervation*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Renal Artery / innervation*
  • Renal Artery / surgery*
  • Sympathectomy / methods*